Digital transformation doesn’t just involve deploying new technologies; it also involves empowering people – both customers and employees. We talked to Rob Holohan about how the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is digitising its services and modernising its contact centre to provide a better experience to millions of drivers and vehicle owners across Great Britain.

Tell us about the DVLA’s digitisation plans

Making it as easy as possible for customers to engage with us digitally is essential for our future success. We’ve already introduced a number of digital processes for drivers and vehicle owners. For example, we have deployed an online service that will provide 24/7 access to driver entitlements. Although we want to be a centre of excellence for digital transactions, we need to ensure that we still offer customers a choice of other engagement channels.

How do customers currently engage with the DVLA?

Every customer query is handled by one of the 900-plus advisors working at our contact centre in Swansea. The telephone is currently still the main contact channel, but that is changing. In March 2016 we became the first central government agency to offer web chat capabilities – and it’s been a great success. Our contact centre advisors participate in around 25,000 web chats per month. When an advisor starts a web chat, they already know where the customer’s online transaction failed and their personal details. This reduces the time we need to spend on each chat and increases the number of customers that we can help.

How are you helping your advisors engage with customers across multiple channels?

We’ve embarked on a major modernisation of our entire contact centre. The biggest change so far has been the introduction of a single platform for answering customer queries across all channels. As digital channels become more popular, we need to empower and educate our advisors on how best to respond. We’ve created a library of social media templates that can be accessed via Service Cloud with a single click. We’ve also introduced a knowledge base, so advisors can provide consistent advice.

How has the contact centre modernisation impacted the customer experience?

Customers now have greater choice around how and when they contact us. We’ve also made a number of quality and efficiency gains by establishing a single platform. For example, since introducing the new knowledge base, the average handling time for telephone calls has decreased by more than 10 seconds on certain key services. We’ve also seen our telephony demand drop by around 100,000 calls per month, due in part to our new web chat capability. Web chats have a first contact resolution rate of 91% compared with 76% for telephone calls, and customer satisfaction levels are also higher at 90% versus 85%.

And what about your advisors? What does the modernisation mean for them?

We’ve always had good levels of staff engagement – but now they are even better! Since embarking on the modernisation, the engagement level for contact centre staff has gone up from 66% to 73% compared with an overall rating of 63% for DVLA employees. With Salesforce, we’ve added a feature where managers can send ‘badges’ and thank you messages to recognise advisors. This encourages them to go the extra mile. They can also see customer feedback and scores after every web chat.

What’s next on the modernisation agenda?

We have recently introduced a new web to case solution and are in the process of integrating our telephony systems with Service Cloud, which will give us even greater visibility of the customer journey. Advisors are also being encouraged to share ideas for improving our efficiency and quality of service. For example, one advisor came up with a seating plan idea to overcome capacity issues at our offices. These suggestions are captured in a dedicated ideas app on Salesforce. The ideas are rated and discussed on Chatter before being put into production.

Why was Salesforce the right partner for your modernisation project?

Normally when you implement a new system, it means engaging with expensive external developers. Salesforce was a breath of fresh air; it wanted to give us the skills to undertake our own development in-house. With Salesforce, we can knock out new functionality in days or weeks. We’ve ended up doing much than we intended. 

What advice would you give to someone embarking on a contact centre transformation programme? 

For us, it was important to keep our customers and staff at the heart of our delivery. We have a real focus on user needs, which helps ensure that our end products add real value and to avoid ‘technology for technology’s sake’. 

It’s also important to take things one step at a time and not try to deliver too much too soon. We released small beta deliveries to learn from real customers on a manageable scale, and made incremental improvements based on customer and advisor feedback. This approach allowed us to find out what worked and what didn’t, and ensured we hit the ground running when we rolled out each deliverable.

People, processes, and platforms all need to be part of the digital transformation roadmap. Read the full success story to learn more about how the DVLA’s digitisation and modernisation efforts are improving customer choice and satisfaction.